Office Papers Study

Workplace consumers at home print less but print better

A survey commissioned by Stora Enso polled 3,400 workplace consumers across Sweden, UK, France, Netherlands, and Germany on office paper purchasing and printing behaviour and delivered a number of new insights including one big surprise for paper makers.

Following on from a similar poll in 2021 where most respondents were still working and printing from home, this year’s data shows a drift back to the office by almost all people polled.

“In fact, it’s less of a drift and more of a stampede,” says Stora Enso’s Jonathan Bakewell, VP, Head of Segment Office and Book Papers, citing 92% now either part- or full-time in the office, compared with only 35% at this time last year. “Looking across all geographies covered, now only 8% are working solely from home, which is more or less the antithesis of last year’s findings,” Bakewell says.

Given a choice, 48% of respondents said they would prefer a hybrid approach, with three days at the office and two days at home.

Printers now part of home office

According to the survey, having a printer at home is now more or less business as usual. Since the end of 2021, the number of respondents with home printers installed increased by 11% to 76%, with 32% saying their printer was bought or supplied by an employer.

“Whereas a home printer was once an anomaly in people’s homes, it is now as ubiquitous as a microwave,” Bakewell says. Attesting to this from his own observations, he notes that design in home printers has become almost as important as functionality, with sleeker styles and the option for silver, white or metallic, and not just black, to match home décors. However, even with the increase in installed printers, people still said they were printing less at home and more (58%) at the office.

Back to office back to print

Whereas last year, digital tools were the main reason for printing less at home, this year’s respondents cited the cost of printing not covered by their employer as the main factor (34% versus only 27% last year). Sending documents to print in an office location took second place (30%) among the reasons. But printing was still seen as a necessary imperative for home office workers, with only a miniscule 1% saying they have stopped printing altogether. And overall, 78% of home office workers believe that a printer makes them more productive.

In terms of choice of sales channels for purchasing print paper, this year was still a fairly even split between online (30% +1% vs 2021) and retail (36%, +2% vs 2021), with both taking shares from paper supplied at home by an employer. For those who did not have paper supplied by their employer, 73% said they were making savings in their personal cost centres by printing less at home.

“This was to be expected,” Bakewell says, “But what the survey revealed which was most surprising and encouraging, is that even while printing less, the majority said they would not downgrade on quality or sustainability.”

Quality and carbon neutral rank highest

Since 2021, paper prices have been going up in step with a higher cost of living, but even with this increase, the idea of paying more for sustainability has grown in importance, with 70% saying that despite buying less, sustainability remained an important factor, and that they were willing to pay a premium for paper with a better sustainability performance. Germany ranked highest on quality and sustainability as the most important factors, and overall, the younger respondents (18 to 24 years) came in ahead of the curve.

In terms of eco-labels, while the Nordic eco-label came out on top in Sweden with 70% recognition, the highest average awareness, split across all countries, was for C02 Neutral certification (ranging between 30% and 52% recognition), which showed an increase of almost 10% on last year’s figures.

“I’ve never seen such a sustained interest in sustainability,” says Bakewell. During his 30-year career in the paper market, Bakewell has seen his share of economic downturns. “Usually, a downturn correlates with a drop in environmental concerns, then with the upturn, the planet gets put back on the agenda. But this year, climate concerns seem to have triumphed over cost.

For Bakewell, printing for sustainability means Stora Enso’s Multicopy Zero, the company’s hero brand carbon-offset premium printing paper. “And with print quality and carbon neutrality coming out on top even stronger than last year, the Multicopy Zero checks all the boxes on what people say they want.”

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